Decisive Storm shows the way to fight terror

Updated 01 April 2016

Decisive Storm shows the way to fight terror

It is now a year since the Kingdom led the military coalition of Gulf states to save Yemen. Operation Decisive Storm surprised a watching world. The speed and effectiveness of the intervention was total. Yemen’s second city Aden had been on the verge of falling to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The thousand-mile Saudi-Yemeni border had descended into lawlessness. Yemen was on the brink of chaos. It had the potential to become another Afghanistan. The regional instability brought on by such a collapse would have been extremely serious.
Twelve months on and the position has been dramatically reversed. The insurgents have been driven back on all fronts. The border is now secure. Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been restored firmly to power. Only the capital Sanaa and a few pockets of territory remain in their hands. It is to be hoped that the remaining rebels will see the helplessness of their position and negotiate an end to their insurgency.
It is therefore no surprise that grateful Yemenis have taken to the streets to celebrate their liberation. Pictures of Gulf leaders, most frequently of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman were paraded by joyous crowds. They were not simply marking their escape from the grim consequences of Iranian control. They were also demonstrating their appreciation for the huge aid and economic program that the Kingdom has established. The new Yemen will not stay a place of poverty which can be exploited by outside meddlers.
It will not be long before all of Yemen will have been restored to the legitimate government. At that point the task of rebuilding can begin in earnest. As the happy crowds all over the country demonstrated, hope is once again rising in people’s hearts. Yemen is no longer a country of despair.
There are many lessons that have been learned from the success of Decisive Storm. Not the least has been how the military forces of the Gulf states can work together. It has required substantial efforts of cooperation and coordination. Perhaps one of the most significant requirements has been the timely sharing of information.
What has been achieved in Yemen signifies the wider battle against terrorism. It has led to a highly significant new development. The formation of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition is of huge importance. It currently brings together 34 Muslim states with more expected to join. At the coalition’s inaugural meeting in Riyadh this week, four other Muslim countries came as observers.
The coalition’s goals are ambitious. It is focusing on every aspect of the terrorism menace. It is looking at the ideology that is used to fuel terror. It is looking at the media manipulation. It is looking at terrorism funding. Last but not the least, it is looking at the military aspect. It is seeking how armies that are trained for conventional warfare can best adapt their tactics to fight the shadowy terrorist menace.
The new coalition is sending a strong message to Daesh. It can no longer use its perverted version of Islam to maneuver Muslim states into confrontation with the rest of the international community. The coalition is there to counter the terrorists at every level. Daesh and Al-Qaeda are doomed to defeat. There is no room for their obscenities in a decent world. The only question is when that defeat will come. How many more lives be lost or ruined at the hands of these monstrous organizations? How much more destruction will they and their like be able to inflict?
The way to defeat them is through coordination and cooperation. The Kingdom has been a prime supporter of the United Nations Center for Counter-Terrorism. It first gave $10 million to help its establishment in 2014. It then gifted a further $100 million to fund its operations. And it has been about far more than just writing generous checks. Saudi counterterrorism officials from the start have played a key role in the UNCCT.
Terrorists respect no borders. Once they could hide in one state and attack another. The coalition means that in the Muslim world, ultimately there will be no hiding places. Thanks in no small measure to the Kingdom’s pioneering counter terrorism coordination, the enemy is being tracked down and dealt with. Saudi Arabia is sharing its own understanding of terrorism gained in its hard-won battles here in the Kingdom. Now through the UNCCT every country can benefit from those insights. And in the Muslim world, the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition is readying itself to deliver decisive blows against the enemy.


Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.